Death Penalty on the Decline?

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An “Invented” People?

I posted the below response to Paul Moses’ excellent December 10, 2011 article in Commonweal, “Newt, Gingrich, John Paul II and the Palestinians”. I noticed a flurry of negative postings to Moses and thought it appropriate to post the below response (slightly edited here), more or less defending his article:

All peoples are “invented” at one time or another. For goodness sake, Americans became an “invented” people in 1776. Yes, Americans, to use Newt’s very poor word choice, essentially “invented” themselves. You can argue that God “invented’ Israel by His covenant with Abraham. Or that a Frankish tribe eventually “invented” modern France. Go ahead and try to tell the French that they’re an “invented” people. Their disdain for such a label would be very understandable,  just as the Palestinian reaction is quite understandable.

Newt, Newt, Newt.

Gingrich used a provocative term and did so evidently on purpose.   Compare his method to Tom Friedman’s.  With care and respect, Friedman described how he came to the conclusion that the Palestinians are now a sovereign people, citing the first Intifada as the moment when the Palestinians became a separate people beyond all dispute.

Compare, too how John Paul II carefully recognized the Palestinians as a sovereign people with a right to a homeland, all the while recognizing Israel’s right to exist in safety as a sovereign nation.

Then note how Gingrich went about it. How divisive and belittling his word choice was. Do people on the right hand side of the political aisle really want to nominate someone for President who so purposely alienates others? Considering Gingrich’s word choice, he used the phrase to draw attention to himself (his usual M.O.) more than anything else. A form of selfishness, if you will.

Rather, behold what we are witnessing here and now: If the Palestinians weren’t a people a century ago, they surely are now. We are witnessing, perhaps, the birth of a people. Let’s not let alienating word choices smear such a rare event.

I am all for Israel’s existence as a nation and as a people.  I recognize it with reverence and honor.   However, recognizing one people (the Israelis) does not mean belittling another (the Palestinians).  It’s in Israel’s long term interest to come to some level of accommodation and respect with the Palestinian people.  To not do so can only harm Israel.  Similarly, it’s in the Palestinians’ long term interest to come to some level of accommodation with Israel.  The talk by extremists on the one side to kick all of the Palestinians out of the area is as shrill and as eerily similar as the shouts of the extremists who wish to push Israel into the sea.  Both views are unrealistic.  Both views are ultimately murderous, and both views obviously make things worse.  Perhaps it’s the extremists on both sides who should be sent somewhere far away where social justice is an alien concept.  Like Mars.

Reference:  New Gingrich, John Paul II and the Palestinians

The New Latin Rite Liturgy: Did Jesus Speak like that?

Does anyone really think that Jesus spoke to the masses in garbled sentences?

Admittedly, I haven’t had the chance yet to read through the entire new Latin Rite’s liturgy. I’ve read a few reviews and a sampling here and there, though. Here’s my quick, quick take on such an apparently clunky translation and its already oft-described disconnect from the layman:

It’s very safe to say that when Jesus preached, he preached in the everyday language of Aramaic to the everyday person. He almost certainly didn’t preach to the masses in a formalized language (Hebrew) that the people would have trouble understanding. The same goes for St. Peter, and reading St. Paul, he, too, spoke clearly and in understandable language.

If we wish to imitate Christ, then I suggest we start, you know, acting like Him and using plain speech whenever possible. I venture to say that Christ’s reaction to making the liturgy harder to understand and clunky to pronounce…well, He’d likely have an interesting parable to say about that. Probably a parable about placing rocks in one’s mouth before speaking doesn’t make for clear understanding!

As someone posted on Facebook about the matter: “What the heck is consubstantial”?

Does anyone really think Jesus spoke like that?


Commonweal:  It Doesn’t Sing

Commonweal:  Lost In Translation